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How to identify if you need a noise assessment

It’s a fascinating question – how do you determine if you must conduct an assessment of noise without actually conducting an assessment of noise?

A noise assessment should be completed by any employer that has noise levels in excess of 80dB(A)

It is recommended to conduct a complete sound assessment when there is a belief that noise levels will be in the range of 78-79 dB(A) because of the natural variations that occur each day.

The regulation aspect of this is that a risk assessment is necessary when the employer is working in a place that could cause employees exposure to sound that is higher than a lower exposure value’. In English it means that when there is a possibility that employees are working at noisy environments with a noise level of around the level of dB(A) or more , the regulation 5(1) requires the conduct of a noise risk assessment. completed.

L108 provides some guidelines (not the law) that states that ‘if in doubt it is better to presume that a noise assessment is required’.

Industries in which noise assessments are required

This could be applicable to virtually every industry that has any type of manufacturing or production process, but there are more specific ones in which noise may not at first appear to be a crucial part of the work.

Production of food




Maintenance of grounds

Woodworking, for example, or music classes

Emergency services


Building ships

Extrusions made of plastic


The test of conversation – can you comprehend normal speech?

It is likely that this is the way the HSE will decide whether they will examine your noise level – when they enter an office and notice that the noise is distracting while talking with others, then it is an indication that the level is about the level of 80 dB(A) and they’ll request to see an assessment.

Additional sources for information regarding the levels of noise

Any data on noise provided by the maker of the equipment or tool that is being employed.

If anyone on your website is using access to an Apple Watch then the built-in noise meter function is extremely precise. We’ve tested it for ourselves and found it to remain within 1.5 to 2 decibels of the actual value. So, suppose that if the Apple Watch is saying 78dB the watch could be pushing 80dB, and a noise test is needed.

A less expensive Type 3 noise meter can prove to be an invaluable tool in this regard as it gives an easy and quick indicator of whether the noise is getting somewhat loud.

Apps for phones

We recommend caution when using these. We’ve tested a variety of them and when paired together with a class 1 noise meter, the apps for phones are often far from the target. A few of the top ones have the ability to calibrate but you’ll have to perform a calibration and even then, they could be quite ineffective.

If you are unsure, consult us if you don’t require an assessment of the noise

The most important thing to note is that if you go through this process and conclude that a noise study is not required, then record the decision-making process, including who was involved, the method used, how it was conducted and the date it was completed. So, when you get the HSE call, you are able to claim ‘yes my Lord Benevolent of Safety we’ve checked to determine if we required the noise assessment, and here’s the way and when we completed it’. If you claim you’ve checked , but don’t provide evidence to prove it then they’ll get a sharp look in their single eye and unleash their fury on you because you are unable to demonstrate that you had done the test and they will conclude that you most likely just overlooked the issue.

Be aware that if there’s any evidence or documentation of an action, it’s not happening. It’s better to do the right thing, and achieved results that people disagree with, than to be deemed not to have attempted in the first place.